Having had runs of irregular but painful contractions each morning for a couple of weeks, I was very disappointed when my due date came and went without any signs of established labour. I developed excruciating sciatica and was fed-up and uncomfortable. I became more concerned at my 41 week appointment when the midwife felt the baby was less engaged than she previously had been, and told me that it was probably poor positioning that meant labour was not forthcoming. I agreed to an examination and was glad to hear that my cervix was thinning, and agreed to a sweep. I felt very low following this, as the midwife insisted on discussing an induction and booking a bed for me at the hospital. I felt so sure that my body was working towards a successful labour and really wanted to believe that a home birth was possible.
The sweep resulted in a big show, and I woke in the early hours of the morning with the usual painful contractions. However, this time they continued throughout the day, remaining 8-10 minutes apart and never becoming any more painful. I was able to largely distract myself and carry on as normal, but tried to rest as much as possible as I was hopeful this was “it”. During the evening, the baby suddenly became amazingly active and wriggled more than she had done in weeks. Whilst walking the dog, my sciatica disappeared and I felt the weight of the baby move lower.
I attempted to go to bed around midnight, but on lying down the contractions become much stronger and uncomfortable and become much more frequent, about 5 minutes apart. I got up again and created a nest for myself in the corner of the bedroom (I didn’t want to wake J and felt comfortable on my own but wanted to be near him). I found kneeling & leaning forward over the birth ball or the edge of the bed during contractions and then relaxing back on my heels the easiest way to rest and deal with the contractions. I was surprised by how restful the gaps between contractions were and whilst not able to sleep, used them to rest or read rubbish magazines.
At about 3 am, the contractions became stronger and 3-5 mins apart. I rang delivery suite, only to be told that there were no midwives available, but that we were welcome to attend the hospital, or wait until the day shift started. I woke J and we worked out how to set up the TENS before he went back to sleep (still not believing me that I was sure he would not be going to work that day!). I then found I had to move and sway during contractions and was no longer comfortable using the ball. At about 7am I no longer wanted to be alone and woke J. I rang delivery suite again and asked for a midwife to assess me when their shift started.
A midwife, Helen, visited us at 9 am and informed me I was only 2 cm dilated, but promised me I would be having a baby within the day. She told us to stay as active as possible and promised to return whenever we felt we needed her. I managed to eat some bananas despite feeling nauseous. We went for a long dog walk around the park and fields near our house. My contractions became more intense and regular, but not more frequent. We stopped and I used trees and railings for support, leaning forwards and swaying my hips. I truly didn’t care about all the other dog walkers and felt very much in my own world.
On returning home my contractions were noticeably stronger and I created a nest on the sitting room floor, breathing through contractions on all fours and then standing up and walking in the gaps. I did not want to be left alone but refused to be touched or be spoken to during contractions, as I felt more able to deal with them on my own. I only allowed myself to think of the current contraction, visualised a hill, controlled my breathing and concentrated on the fact that it would only last at minute or so before it would be completely gone.
Once my contractions became longer and more forceful at about 3pm we decided to call the midwife back. She told us that she would be an hour or so. At this point I felt the force of the contractions taking me over, and although not remotely frightened, allowed myself to cry and give in to the process. I then had a run of contractions with very little rest in between and with the encouragement of J began chanting on the out breath, which immediately calmed me (even if the sound was owwwwww…..mmm)! J also moved to holding my feet and grounding me during contractions, which made me feel incredibly safe & accompanied through the contraction without the irritation/invasion of being touched.
When Helen returned and examined me she found I was 6 cm dilated, and felt I still had quite a long time to go. J was allowed to prepare the pool and started filling it with water. However, I quickly felt huge pressure on my bladder with my contractions which incredibly uncomfortable, and so started using entonox. My waters broke soon after and Helen warned me that the contractions could become much more intense (which I found hard to believe was possible)! The intense feeing of being desperate for the loo did not go, and I insisted on being allowed to go to the toilet. As I could no longer face the stairs, I marched out to our outside loo (with no light or heating!) and once there, experienced an enormous urge to push. The midwife hurried me back inside and I was able to get into the pool.
The relief from the warm water was amazing and I wished I had got in sooner. However, the pushing urge did not go and I found it almost impossible to fight. Helen called for a second midwife, but when she examined me, found that I had dilated quickly but unevenly. She encouraged me to use the entonox to fight the pushing. I found this stage harder than the rest of the labour. Once I was fully dilated, I found being allowed to push a huge relief and enjoyed being active rather than passive with the contractions. As I no longer needed the gas and air, I felt completely aware of everything and was able to feel the movement of the baby. Once her head was delivered, there were a few really calm moments waiting for the next contraction. The midwives encouraged me to reach down and receive her body and bring her out of the water onto my chest.
She was floppy on my chest, but responded well to drying and managed to move her head and look up at me very quickly. Her cord was left unclamped and I delivered the placenta naturally about 20 minutes after she was born. The cord was then clamped and cut by J. She remained on my chest throughout and found her own way to my nipple and began feeding. After we got out of the pool, I needed 2 stitches and the baby was weighed and measured before we all snuggled up on the sofa together and she fed again.
After the midwives had left (we had 4 at one point due to a shift change!), I had a bath and changed while my Mum held Kate. We all sat down to a big plate of pasta before J, Kate and I settled down in our bed. An absolutely brilliant birth!
“I decided to have some zero balancing sessions after having had my baby through emergency c-section following a long and difficult labour. The birth experience left me feeling fragile and I struggled to think about it without becoming emotional. I found that Karin's zero balancing session helped me work through this experience. The sessions left me feeling calm and relaxed and after a couple of sessions I felt much stronger in myself, both emotionally and physically. I now also feel much more positive about the birth and able to think about it in a more balanced and measured way.It seems to me that the zero balancing sessions have played a big part in getting me to this point."